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New Publications:   The New York based publisher Contra Mundum is bringing out some interesting new books, notably a bi-lingual (French/English) edition of Self-Shadowing Prey by the surrealist Romanian poet Ghérasim Luca (to be reviewed in these pages), a new translation fo Gilgamesh, also a “long out of print study on Keats Negative Capability :the Intuitive Approach in Keats by W. J. Bate.  See info@contramundum.net

Internet and Language :  Debate rages as to whether the Internet will have or has already had a net good or bad effect on the English language.  Alexa Russel who writes for an English website has sent in the following article: .

The Profound Effect the Internet Has Had on the English Language   by Alexa Russell

Spelling errors abound on the Internet, where individuals can publish any amount of content without using an editor or spell-check software. This concerns many who feel that we already have too much difficulty discerning “too,” “two” and “to” or “their” from “they’re.” For others, however, the Internet is proving that the rules of the English language are almost secondary to its usage and can be simplified for effective communication. This debate will only intensify as shortened forms of communication through digital means become more ubiquitous.
Some have found that the development of Internet-based communication has only served to cause greater confusion when trying to communicate through those avenues. A personal piece printed by the Hamilton Spectator in June 2012 discusses the author’s attempts to follow the seemingly ever-changing rules of Internet communication. “Now,” Jeff Mahoney writes, “for the first time in my experience, I’m getting corrected on my emoticons.”
One of the problems with looser grammatical rules for Internet communication is the lack of a formal set of rules. Without realizing it, an individual can look unhip by adding a nose to her emoticon or using the wrong acronym to indicate a personal state. This can add to the anxiety of trying to draft a message to others.
Others argue that lax spelling standards should be embraced as they don’t hinder actual communication; rather, they make communication more efficient. In January 2012, Wired Magazine announced that it was “Tyme to Let Luce” in a feature article on the effects of autocorrect on texting. The piece argues that attempts to improve writing with autocorrect software hampers the ability to communicate more than improper spelling.
“Autocorrect and spellcheckers are wrongheaded because they reinforce a traditional spelling standard,” writes Anne Trubeck for Wired. Although consistent spelling was necessary in the traditional print era, where publishing was consolidated to a small amount of companies and individuals, spelling rules today get in the way of digital communication between any two parties.
Advocates of lax restrictions on spelling believe that letting individuals figure out how to spell certain words while in active communication is a much more organic form of language development than commitment to archaic grammar rules. Instead of autocorrect, language-recognition software programs like Siri are the future of clarity in communication to them.
Still, the development of casual forms of communication has created a gap between the technically illiterate and chronic texters. In some cases, special classes are used to close this communication gap, which is most prevalent between young adults and the elderly. In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand sponsored a texting workshop aimed at informing elderly individuals about the different rules of communication used in texting and other digital forms. The workshop was exalted for promoting improvement of mental health and wellbeing for entire communities by improving communication.
Language rules which were impenetrable for centuries are now different from generation to generation. This often requires more work to communicate across different age groups, which may respect entirely different sets of grammatical rules. However, the efficiencies created when both parties are familiar with the spelling rules used can make casual communication a highly efficient method of sharing information.

(Alexa Russell writes for an English website that discusses how these and other issues are being taught at English colleges and universities around the globe.)

Queries for a Practising Translator :   John Dewey and Graham Mummery have already sent in completed ‘questionnaires’ for which many thanks (see previous posts). But maybe I ought to add to this by answering my own questions :

Q1. Do you only ever translate from a language you  know well? (If “No” Do you get help from a native speaker? )  Yes. Even for this language (French) I consult native speakers as well.  

Q2.  Do you prefer to read other translations of the piece you are translating?  (a) Before starting  (b) After making a first draft (c) Never  ?      (b) Only to check what someone else has made of an obscure passage.

 Q3.  Do you use a dictionary?  If “Yes”, do you use a foreign language/English dictionary or a dictionary in the source language itself?  Both. I recently resolved only to use the Robert French/French dictionary but I soon found I had to compromise on this.

 Q4. Do you show your translation to anyone before sending it off?  Prose, yes; poetry, no, as a rule.

 Q5. Do you ever translate books or poems you don’t like?  If “Yes”, does this bother you when translating? Only time I did this was a disaster : the publisher to be got a lousy translation and I was lucky to get paid anything at all.  

Q6.  Do you work regular hours or in spurts ‘when you feel like it’?  Regular spurts aided by Bacchus.

Q7. Do you use stimulants (e.g. coffee, alcohol, drugs) to ‘get started’?   Red wine is essential for lyric poetry and poetic prose. When my doctor banned alcohol completely I stopped translating or writing poetry and have not gone back to it (transalting poetry I mean).  A study conducted by the New Scientist came to the conclusion that alcohol “does not make you more creative but can make you feel more creative”. But ‘feeling’ more creative is often what you need : it unlocks the word-hoard.

Q8. Could you give examples of particular difficulties in translating poems or prose from a specific language ? Have you any tips about how to get round these difficulties? Chief difficulty with French is when you have a highly stylized author such as Jouhandeau whom I am currently translating : does one imitate the somewhat old-fashioned diction or modernize for comprehensibility? Scott Moncrieff’s (already ancient) translation of Proust is much less stylized than the original mainly because Proust makes copious use of the subjunctive, though Scott does imitate Proust’s rec0rd-breaking long sentences.

Q9.  Do you see yourself as a ‘literal’ translator or a ‘free’ one?  Free. Prefer to ‘get the spirit’.

Q10. When translating rhymed poetry, do you try to imitate the rhyme scheme and metre?  (a) always; (b) sometimes; (c) never ?  (b) If the rhyme/stamza form seems important as in the case, say, of a sonnet, I always try to keep to the form though I allow myself to make slight changes in the rhyme scheme if necessary. Also, curiously, I find a twelve syllable line comes more naturally to me than the usual English ten-syllable line so this helps when translating French poetry in (twelve syllable) alexandrines.

Sebastian Hayes is the author of Rimbaud Revisited & Une Saison en Enfer A New Translation (Brimstone 2010) and of The Trace I Wish to Leave translations from the French of Anna de Naoilles and Six Poems from the French of Catherine Pozzi (Hague Press Limited Edition).  S.H. 11/08/12

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Louise Labé: Last Sonnet

If I have loved, good ladies, blame not me,
If I a thousand flames have felt the light,
A thousand pangs and travails, passed each night
And day in weeping inconsolably;

Do not Love’s darts envenom by your spite,
Alas! that my good name should sullied be,
If I have erred, I paid the penalty;
Consider this : if e’er the time is right

Adonis’ beauty you need not accuse,
Nor Vulcan’s rights, your ardour to excuse,
Should Cupid wish it, smitten you will be,

And subject to far less temptation
Burn with a stranger, stronger passion;
Pray that you end not heartbroken like me !

Sonnet XXIV
Ne reprenex, Dames, si j’ai aimé
Si j’ay senti mile torches ardentes,
Miles travaus, mile douleurs ardentes.
Si, en pleurant, j’ay mon tems consumé,

Las! que mon nom ne soitm par vous blamé.
Si j’ay failli, les peines sont presentes,
N’aigrissez point leurs pointes violents :
Sans votre ardeur d’un Vulcan excuser,
Sans la beauté d’Adonis accuser,
Pourra, s’il veut, plus vous rendre amoureuses,

En ayant moins que moi d’ocasion,
Et plus d’estrange et forte passion.
Et gardez vous d’estre plus malheureuse! 

Louise Labé (1522-66), known as La Belle Cordière, was one of the most famous inhabitants of Lyons during its heyday as a centre of culture during the sixteenth century. Stanley Applebaum (Introduction to French Poetry, Dover 1991) describes her as “a fêted beauty, an accomplished scholar and linguist, a spirited horsewoman, a champion of women’s rights and a gifted literary hostess, as well as a touching poet“.  Whether she ever was a Belle de Jour of the time is uncertain, but she did have several intense extra-marital affairs. In this, her last Sonnet, she launches a spirited counter-attack against her judges, the respectable bourgeoises of Lyons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Daily I switch languages — call them masks:
At times a mask can feel like your own skin.
At other times, the spirit has to struggle,
Saved only by the tongue it calls its own.

The mysteries of life, of the universe,
I can describe in English now, although
In my mother tongue alone I can stammer out
The words that compose the sunset, make it glow.

George Gömöri  tr. Clive Wilmer

Thus the distinguished Anglo-Hungarian poet, George Gömöri, describes the predicament of someone ‘entre deux langues’. It is interesting that the poet, who has lived in England for much the greater part of his life, talks of languages as ‘masks’ and speaks of “the tongue it calls its own” rather than ‘my mother tongue’. George Gömöri tells me that he writes his own poetry in Hungarian first and collaborates with his friend Clive Wilmer (also a noted poet in his own right) to make a rendering in English (Note1).

I certainly share a dislike of translating something I have written myself into another language and there are one or two poems I wrote in French that I have no desire at all to translate back into my first language, English, (including a fairly long one about a Parisian friend of mine entitled Michel le Hongrois). I sometimes find myself lapsing into French in conversation  when I want to get across feelings or ideas that just don’t come over at all well in English, indeed for which there literally are no proper equivalents. (I don’t know whether George Gömöri, when he wants to ‘make the sunset glow’, reverts to Hungarian because the latter language is better at this sort of thing, or simply because it is his first language.)
That there is a very considerable ‘difference of sensibility’ between various languages is indubitable. French is cited by linguists as being one of the most ‘evolved’ of all the world’s languages (along with Mandarin) and it is certainly better at expressing intricate philosophical and scientific concepts, and marvellous for the meticulous analysis of human affections and affectations. French is indeed the language of the ‘philosophes’ — though whether it was the language that created Voltaire or Voltaire who left an indelible mark on the language is an open question. French, however, lags far behind English in vitality and descriptive power : not only was there no French Shakespeare, one cannot imagine there ever having been one. And vice-versa, one can with difficulty imagine an English Proust — Henry James, one feels, would have been a greater writer if he had been born the other side of the Atlantic/Channel.
It would be interesting to hear what other translators and fluent speakers of two or more languages have to say on this and related subjects.   S.H. 15/7/12

Note 1 : In an earlier version of this post I wrote erroneously that George Gömöri writes in English first and then has the poem translated into Hungarian by Clive Wilmer. Apologies to both George Gömöri and Clive Wilmer for this stupid error and many thanks to George Gömöri for pointing this out to me and also giving me permission to quote his memorable poem.    S.H.

L’âme et le corps 1d   (Click here to access the recording)

                                                 L’Ame et le Corps

Ils ont inventé l’âme afin que l’on abaisse
Le corps, unique lieu de rêve et de raison,
Asile du désir, de l’image et des sons,
Et par qui tout est mort dès le moment qu’il cesse.

Ils nous imposent l’âme, afin que lâchement
On détourne les yeux du sol, et qu’on oublie
Après l’injurieux ensevelissement,
Que sous le vin vivant tout est funèbre lie.

— Je ne commettrai pas envers votre bonté
Envers votre grandeur, secrète mais charnelle,
O corps désagrégés, o confuses prunelles,
La trahison de croire à votre éternité.

Je refuse l’espoir, l’altitude, les ailes,
Mais étrangère au monde et souhaitant le froid
De vos affreux tombeaux, trop bas, trop étroits
J’affirme, en recherchant vos nuits vastes et vaines,
Qu’il n’est rien qui survive à la chaleur des veines !

                                    from L’Honneur de Souffrir (1927) 

The Soul and the Body

The soul was first conceived in order to demean
The body, the domain of dreams and reasoning,
Sole source of our desire, of all that’s heard and seen,
For when it stops, it marks the close of everything.

They foist the soul upon us, so we cannot see
What’s underneath our feet, and in our cowardice
Deny our squalid end, the grim reality
That when the wine is drunk, there’s nothing but the lees.

O shattered bodies, eyes whose fire is at an end,
I shall not now commit the shameful  treachery
Against your greatness and your beauty to pretend
That you are as you were for all eternity.

No. I refuse all hope, distrust sublimity,
I am an outcast from your world and  I invite
The chill of your ignoble tombs, so mean, so small,
For I declare, on contemplating that vast night,
That once our blood is cold, it is the end of all.

Translated by Sebastian Hayes

Click here for audio of L’Empreinte by Anna de Noailles, read by Julia Slade

This poem, beautifully read by Julia Slade, was presented at the very first meeting of the series I organized at the Poetry Cafe on  27 January 2010 — indeed, the title of the series, The Trace They Wished To Leave, refers to the first line of my translation of this poem. Below you can find the original French and my English translation and interested readers are referred to the linked website www.annadenoailles.com  where you will find other poems of Anna de Noailles translated and commentaries on the œuvre of this great forgotten poet of the Belle Époque era.

                   L’Empreinte                                        

Je m’appuierai si bien et si fort à la vie,
D’une si rude étreinte et d’un tel serrement,
Qu’avant que la douceur du jour me soit ravie
Elle s’échauffera de mon enlacement.

La mer, abondamment sur le monde étalée,
Gardera, dans la route errante de son eau,
Le goût de ma douleur qui est âcre et salée
Et sur les jours mouvants roule comme un bateau.

Je laisserai de moi dans le pli des collines
La chaleur de mes yeux qui les ont vu fleurir,
Et la cigale assise aux branches de l’épine
Fera vibrer le cri strident de mon désir.

Dans les champs printaniers la verdure nouvelle
Et le gazon touffu sur le bord des fossés
Sentiront palpiter et fuir comme des ailes
Les ombres de mes mains qui les ont tant pressés.

La nature qui fut ma joie et mon domaine
Respirera dans l’air ma persistante ardeur,
Et sur l’abattement de la tristesse humaine
Je laisserai la forme unique de mon cœur…

                              from Le Cœur Innombrable (1901) 

The Trace I Wish to Leave

I aim to thrust myself against this life so hard,
And clasp it to me fiercely, leaving such a trace,
That when the sweetness of these days I must discard
The world will keep awhile the warmth of my embrace.

The sea, spread out across the globe so lavishly,
On stormy days my fitful memory will sustain,
And in its myriad, random motions ceaselessly
Preserve the acrid, salty, savour of my pain.

What will be left of me in heath and windswept coomb?
My blazing eyes will set the yellow gorse on fire,
And the cicada perched upon a sprig of broom
Will sound the depth and poignancy of my desire.

Each spring, in fertile meadows where the skylark sings,
In lanes and wayside ditches where wild flowers grow,
The tufted  grass will tremble at the touch of unseen wings,
The phantoms of my hands that held them long ago.

My joy and restless passion will not die with me,
Nature will breathe me in, making of me a part
Of all that lives, while sorrowing humanity
Will hold the individual profile of my heart.

Translation Sebastian Hayes

 Anna de Noailles (1876–1933)   was an acclaimed poet, novelist and woman of letters during the Belle Époque but is now almost entirely forgotten. An acclaimed beauty sculpted by Rodin, at least one young man in Paris allegedly committed suicide because of her. As a poet, she is full of fire and unashamed sensuality and saw herself as a female Nietzsche, a thinker she admired and whose philosophy she claimed to espouse. Stylistically, she resisted modern innovations such as ‘free verse’ and stream of consciousness techniques, keeping strictly to traditional verse forms.


L’offrande à la nature t1      Read by Julia Slade

          L’Offrande à la Nature

Nature au cœur profond sur qui les cieux reposent,
Nul n’aura comme moi si chaudement aimé,
La lumière des jours et la douceur des choses,
L’eau luisante et la terre où la vie a germé.

La forêt, les étangs et les plaines fécondes
Ont plus touché mes yeux que les regards humains,
Je me suis appuyé à la beauté du monde
Et j’ai tenu l’odeur des saisons dans mes mains.

J’ai porté vos soleils ainsi qu’une couronne
Sur mon front plein d’orgueil et de simplicité,
Mes jeux ont égalé les travaux de l’automne
Et j’ai pleuré d’amour aux bras de vos étés.

Je suis venue à vous sans peur et sans prudence
Vous donnant ma raison pour le bien et le mal,
Ayant pour toute joie et toute connaissance
Votre âme impétueuse aux ruses d’animal.

Comme une fleur ouverte où logent des abeilles
Ma vie a répandu des parfums et des chants,
Et mon cœur matineux est comme une corbeille
Qui vois offre du lierre et des rameaux penchants.

Soumise ainsi que l’onde où l’arbre se reflète,
J’ai connu des désirs qui brûlent dans vos soirs
Et qui font naître au cœur des hommes et des bêtes
La belle impatience et le divin vouloir.

Je vous tiens toute vive entre mes bras, Nature!
Ah! faut-il que mes yeux s’emplissent d’ombre un jour,
Et que j’aille au pays sans vent et sans verdure
Que ne visitent pas la lumière et l’amour…

                                     from   Le Cœur Innombrable (1901)
My Offering to Nature

Sustaining Nature from whom bosom all life springs,
None have adored you with such passion from their birth;
The light of days and all the tenderness of things,
The shining water and the dark and fruitful earth.

I lent against your beauty since my youth began;
Dark forests, mountain pools, the open fertile lands,
These touched my eyes more than the wandering looks of man,
I have the odour of the seasons on my hands.

Your suns I bore as a tiara on my brow,
With pride and innocence I answered to your charms,
Your autumn labours matched my childhood play, and how
I wept for joy when clasped within your summers’ arms.

I came to you most trustingly, wanting it so,
Denying sense and reason, be it for good or ill;
The recompense and prize I sought was just to know
Your fervent essence and your cunning animal will.

I am an open flower where bees can make their home,
My life has spread abroad perfume and song and dance,
My morning heart is like a basket filled with loam
And trailing boughs that blooms and foliage enhance.

Like water I reflect the overarching trees,
And willingly, at night, have yielded to that fire
That fills both beasts and men, inspiring without cease
A wild abandonment and a sublime desire.

I hold you breathing at my breast, Nature, my own!
And must I live with shadows and exchange all this
For that drear landscape, grassless, windless and unknown,
Where neither sun nor moon will shine and no love is ?

Translation by Sebastian Hayes

 

 

 

 

 

Curious enquirer into All That Is
Whose guiding principle and end I sought,
The hidden gold I spied within th’ abyss,
Made it my leaven, to fulfilment brought.

Then I explained how in a mother’s womb
The soul makes house, and how the pip and crumb
Of vine and corn, sealed in their earthy tomb
By miracle the bread and wine become.

The void; God spoke; the void became a thing;
I doubted this — for what maintained it so?
Nought but the void was ground and scaffolding.

At last, with scales that blame and merit show,
I weighed the eternal and it called to me;
I died adoring it, no more I know.

                                    Translation Sebastian Hayes

SONNET

Curieux scrutateur de la Nature entière,
J’ai connu du grand tout le principe et la fin.
J’ai vu l’or en puissance au fond de sa rivière
J’ai saisi sa matière et surpris son levain.

J’expliquai par quel art l’âme aux flancs d’une mère
Fait sa maison, l’emporte, et comment un pépin Mis contre un grain de blé, sous l’humide poussière;
L’un plante et l’autre cep, sont le pain et le vin.

Rien n’était, Dieu voulant, rien devint quelque chose,
J’en doutais, je cherchai sur quoi l’univers pose.
Rien gardait l’équilibre et servait de soutien.

Enfin avec le poids de l’éloge et du blâme
Je pesai l’éternel; il appella mon âme:
Je mourrai, j’adorai, je ne savais plus rien.

Comte de St.-Germain

 Desire

I am the rustling of the world
the swaying between here and elsewhere
the dumb foliage of the cactus
the coarse wood that covers the gecko
the bed for the world-book
whose pages are as many waves of the quest
endlessly begun again

Abdourahman A. Waberi    tr. Williamson 

Truce

I scatter my voice to the four corners of the town
the water shapes time there
I mingle my body with the fragrances that emerge from night
I drown my confusion there
I look into your eyes for our past quarrels
clans undone weaving the web of discord
I ask the succulents to give back

my sweet memory
indecisive you listen to the rustling of my cracks
you put off until tomorrow
the approach of night

                    Abdourahman A. Waberi    tr. Williamson

Désirs

je suis le bruissement du monde
le balancement entre ici et ailleurs
la frondaison muette du cactus
le bois rugueux qui recouvre le gecko
le lit du livre-monde
où les pages sont autant de vagues de la quête
toujours recommence

Abdourahman A. Waberi   

Treve

je sème ma voix aux quatres coins de la ville
l’eau y dessine le temps
je mêle mon corps aux effluves remontant de la nuit
j’y noie mon desarroi
je cherche dans tes yeux nos querelles d’antan
les clans défaits tissent la toile de leur discorde
je demande aux plantes grasses de me rendre

ma tendre mémoire
indécise tu écoutes les bruissements de ma brisure
tu remets à demain
l’approche de la nuit

 Abdourahman A. Waberi   

Abdourahman A. Waberi is a writer, novelist and poet. He has won numerous awards notably the Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Afrique noire in 1996 for his short story collection Cahier nomade. In 2000 he published a poetry collection, Les Nomades, mes frères, vont boire à la Grande Ourse with Editions Pierron, France. An English teacher at Lisieux in Normandy, Mr Waberi is also an editorial advisor for Le Serpent à plumes in Paris, and a literary chronicler and writer for Monde Diplomatique. English translations of his work appeared in The Gallery of the Insane, Xcités, the Flamingo Book of New French Writing,London, 1999, which was shortlisted for the first Caine Prize for African Fiction, 2000.

Patrick Williamson was born in Madrid in 1960 and is currently living near Paris, France. Most recent poetry collections: Prussia Cove and Strands, both from Palores Publications. He has translated Yves Bonnefoy among others, and edited selected poems of Tunisian poet Tahar Bekri (Inconnues Saisons/Unknown Seasons, L’Harmattan) and Quebecois poet Gilles Cyr (The Graph of Roads, Guernica Editions). He is the editor of Quarante et un poètes de Grande-Bretagne (Ecrits des Forges/Le Temps de Cérises, 2003).

ÊTRE

Le front comme un drapeau perdu
Je te traine quand je suis seul
Dans des rues froides
Dans les chambres noires
En criant misère

Je ne veux pas les lâcher
Tes mains claires et compliquées
Nées dans le miroir clos des miennes

Tout le reste est parfait
Tour le reste est encore plus inutile
Que la vie

Une nappe d’eau près des seins
Où se noyer
Comme une pierre

Paul Éluard

BEING

Brow as a lost flag
I pull you with me when I am alone
In the cold streets
In the dark rooms
Crying poverty

I’ll not let go of them
Your light intricate hands
Born in the closed mirror of mine

All the rest is perfect
All the rest is even more futile
Than life

A sheet of water near your breasts
Where I’ll let myself drown
Like a stone

(translation Graham Mummery)

Two poems from Gorée babobab island
I

perhaps happiness is so far away
invisible among the tamarind leaves
when my hand brushes the fruit
to share them with spirits laughing at man’s
cruelty to man

perhaps the hope in my eyes drags
the future in clouds of dust where I seek
sparks and the dignity of condemned souls

when the horizon in the early hours
creates images and silhouettes between sun and sea

you are not here to see my eyes
where you have never seen the humour of the world

with the blessing of the island’s
invisible inhabitants I become alive again
as your look is not a poem

but the vast sea that pours infinite pages
by my feet

peut-être le bonheur est-il si loin
invisible dans les feuilles de tamarinier
quand ma main effleure les fruits
à partager avec les génies riant des cruautés
faites à l’homme par l’homme

peut-être l’espérance dans mes yeux traîne-t-elle
l’avenir en nuages de poussières où je cherche
étincelles et dignité des âmes en sursis

quand l’horizon au petit matin
dessine images et silhouettes entre soleil et mer
tu n’es pas là pour voir mes yeux
où tu n’a jamais vu l’humeur du monde

avec la bénédiction des habitants
invisibles de l’île ici je revis

car ton regard n’est pas un poème
mais toute la mer qui coule à
mes pieds
des pages infinies

II

here too I drank at the source
words covered with mildew
like walls oozing all the sorrows
carved on the door of time

I drank the life source
that gives us memory and the capped path
of days to come
I lost count of the mouthfuls of elixir I drank
so that the poem
that has for ever haunted my steps survives

tomorrow I will return
to hear you talk to me
again of you and me

here too the sheets where history snoozed
are white and empty

the covers of time alone
are green like the last word in the world
when the wind howls
day and night at the gates of chaos

then I wrap myself in the words of your look faraway
beyond the sea that separates us infinitely

ici aussi j’ai bu à la source
des mots couverts de moisissures
comme murs suintant de tous les malheurs
gravés aux porte du temps

j’ai bu la source vive
qui nous donne mémoire et chemin majuscule
des jours à venir
j’ai bu je ne sais combien de gorgées élixir
pour la survie du poème
qui hante mes pas depuis toujours

demain je reviendrai
entendre ta voix qui me parle
encore de toi et de moi

ici aussi les draps où l’histoire fait la sieste
sont blancs et vides

seule la couverture du temps
est verte comme dernière parole du monde
quand le vent tourbillonne
nuit et jour à la porte du chaos

alors je m’enroule dans les mots de ton regard horizon
par-delà la mer nous séparant infiniment

(Gorée île baobab, Le Bruit des autres/ Ecrits des Forges, 2004)

Tanella Boni was born and brought up in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, before going to
university in Toulouse and then Paris. She is now a Professor of Philosophy
at the University  of Abidjan (Cocody). She was the President of the Ivory Coast Writers Association from 1991 to 1997 and is often invited to address international conferences on poetry, the arts and literature. Her poetry collections include Labyrinthe, Grains de sable, Ma peau est fenêtre d’avenir, and Gorée île baobab.
She has also published novels (Une vie de crabe and Les baigneurs
du Lac rose),
short stories and children’s literature. Tanella Boni has lived in Abidjan for more than twenty years.

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